Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sun City Golf Irrigation update

Just wanted to give a quick update on the challenges we are facing on the golf courses with the irrigation. We started noticing a few weeks ago that our irrigation heads were becoming clogged up with a type of algae. Due to this you may have noticed hot spots on the 3 courses. We are continually cleaning out the heads and parts and flushing them out as we speak. One of the pics below we had to clean out within 6 days of cleaning it out the first time. We are in the process of determining a solution to the problem. So in the meantime bear with us as there may be some wet spots in fairway and roughs as we try to catch these areas back up and try to stay off dry areas if you can.

Thanks Golf Maintenance

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

White Wing fairway aerification

Over the next week we will be completing our fairway aerification on the White Wing golf course. During this time we will do our best to insure that the plugs are cleaned off before play but there may be a fairway or two that you play that will still have plugs on the ground. Please remember that a ball that comes to rest in a fairway aerification hole can be played as ground under repair and you may take the proper relief. Thank you for your patience during this process and remember it's a practice that is done to provide better quality conditions for all our golfers! Thank you, Golf Staff 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Golf Maintenance Changes

We would first like to start off by wishing former Cowan Creek Superintendent Craig Loving a fond farewell. He has accepted the Head Superintendent position at Lost Creek Country Club in Austin which is a great opportunity for him to advance his career. He will be greatly missed at Sun City and we wish him the best on his new endeavor!

So, with Jonathan Ayers leaving White Wing a few weeks ago, and now Craig Loving leaving Cowan Creek there a lot of changes in the Golf Maintenance management scenery here at Sun City.

The following management changes are effective immediately:

Reagan Olson (Legacy Hills Supt.) is now the Supt. at Cowan Creek
Billy Houts (Legacy Hills Assistant Supt.) is now the Head Supt. at Legacy Hills
Kris Morin (The Quarry Golf Club Supt.) is the new Head Supt. at White Wing

This should be a fairly seamless transition since all but one of the positions are internal moves within our company. We are excited to have a new set of eyes on each of the properties and it should provide us with a new level of course conditions and attention to detail.

We would also like to take this time to thank Blake Mathis (Assist. Supt at White Wing) for taking charge of White Wing Golf Maint. as the Interim Supt. for the last few weeks and keeping the course in excellent shape while we go through these management changes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Verti-Cutting Greens

Over the next couple of weeks we will be performing some aggressive verti-cutting on our greens in an effort to remove more thatch from the greens canopy. This practice often leaves some scarring on the greens as seen in the attached photo. This does not affect ball roll and will actually help increase green speed and smoothness. The scarring or "scalped" looking areas will quickly heal and look back to normal within a week's time. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Farewell White Wing Superintendent Jonathan Ayers

Tomorrow marks the end of an era as White Wing Superintendent Jonathan Ayers will spend his last day with us at Sun City. I have had the pleasure of working with Jon for the past 12 years and we have had both good and bad times but more than anything we have had many great times! Not only has he been a valued co-worker but he has been a great friend with a heart of gold. He will be greatly missed at Sun City and we wish he and his family the best in his future endeavors. Best Wishes Jonathan! 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cowan Creek Greens Update

As some of you have noticed, we are dealing with a minor issue in the low areas (#4 right side, #7 front right, etc.) and on #8 green.  The following paragraphs will detail the current problem, what we've done and are doing to combat the issue, as well as future measures and expected recovery.


  What We Are Seeing:  The algae you are seeing is cyanobacteria (not actually algae), which we found from the results of a diagnostics test we sent off from #8 green on 4/18/16.  So the darker slimy areas that you have seen as well as the surrounding yellowing areas are all a result of cyanobacteria.  The formation of cyanobacteria in the low areas or high traffic areas is there this time of year for several reasons.  The most prevalent of these is poor drainage and wet conditions (surface moisture).  The mechanical stress and foot traffic compaction also aids the growth of cyanobacteria.  With the heavy rainfall we received throughout April, along with days with inadequate sunlight, combined with ridiculously poorly constructed drainage systems are all contributions to these results.  As we check moisture 2-3 days a week for hot spots, we also check our low areas.  A majority of those areas maintain 40-50% moisture, and the acceptable moisture range for our greens is typically between 18-24%.  During the growing season, they dry faster and are easier to maintain with higher evapotranspiration rates.  However, throughout the winter and up to this time of year, the ET rates are lower and we have to mechanically open up pore space with solid aerification tines.  What we are seeing is a winter's worth of wet conditions and traffic stress, and this spring hasn't been kind on us with consistent, periodic rain and shade from cloud cover.  What is visible now is something that happens this time every year, but to a lesser degree.


  The Underlying Problem:  We found on that Monday (4/18/16) that the daylight to #8 green's drainage was submerged due to the recent rain, which basically suffocated the green and caused it to react as it did.  we've since found out that the pipe has a sink in it 30 feet from the edge of the native, so there is a pocket in the pipe that holds water.  This normally would not be an issue as long as the daylight is completely void of water, but I didn't discover the sink in the pipe until that week.  In addition, the drainage system to the pipe is 3-4 feet deeper than a normal USGA spec system, and this is the case for all of the greens where we have exposed the drainage pipe (#9, #6, #4, #13, etc.) to add 4-ways and knife valves.

  The Attack Plan:  The following paragraph details what we've consistently done for 3+ years, as well as how we are addressing the problem with what we've seen this spring.  On 4/18/16 we cleaned the daylight of #8 green, sent off a sample for diagnostics, and injected air into #8 with our air2g2 machine.  In addition, we sprayed Oxyflor (hydrogen peroxide aqueous solution) and Pervade (soil penetrant/surface tension reducer) to #8, #9, #3, #4, and #5.  On that Tuesday we finished cleaning out any other daylights that had potential for submersion, as well as re-trenched all the drainage trenches.  We also aerified all of the low areas and areas showing cyanobacteria or anaerobic areas with a 1/4" pencil tine, and all of the greens were sprayed with two fungicides (chlorothalinil and a phosphite fungicide) for the cyanobacteria.  That Thursday we blew air into all of the greens that we have installed 4-ways and knife valves on (#1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 13).  We also hand spiked and topdressed those areas last week and again this week to mechanically remove the wet/slimy soil and replace it with sand.  On Monday (5/2/16) we pencil tine aerified all of the greens, and our next round of fungicides specified for the cyanobacteria was sprayed on Saturday morning (5/7/16).  We are in the process of adding a 4-way and knife valve to #8 this week, and in order to find the pipe we rented a camera snake for a week.  The vent from the 4-way alone should help #8 in the long run, and the overall goal would be to have them installed on all 20 greens at Cowan Creek.  Supposedly there are blowouts (pipes on the high ends of greens where gases can escape), but we've looked for years using a deep-tine aerifier and probes all to no avail.  We confronted the construction superintendent, and he couldn't help in that regard, nor could he point us in the direction of any as-built drainage maps.  We've utilized the time with the camera snake discovering other challenges to overcome with our greens' drainage elswhere.  Feel free to read a report written on the blog in 2013 about the implementation of sub-surface airflow on how we manage greens with poorly constructed drainage:  http://sctxgcmaint.blogspot.com/2013/01/attacking-our-problems-from-top-to.html

  The Bottom Line:  Even with all of the cultural practices, chemical applications, and our current fertility plan, results may not be visually apparent until the daytime and nighttime temperatures rise and we receive adequate sunlight.  The shoots and roots beneath the algal mats are still healthy and should recover with time as the weather gets warmer.  Unfortunately, we can't do much about the greens' drainage system construction.  Our management plan has adapted over the years to combat our drainage deficiencies, and we've done a good job on the whole minimizing the weak spots in the spring.  I'm confident that these areas will improve in short time, and we will ensure that these areas have no major negative affect on playability.  We are taking every needed step to speed up recovery, but these areas may be an eyesore for the time being. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Legacy Hills: Cart Entry and Exits #9 Sodded

We sodded the Cart Entry and Exits on #9 today and will be CPO on the hole until it grows in and establishes. Once we are able to open this hole back up we will be on 2 week interval of CPO for holes #1 and #9. These two holes have very little entry and exit points so this will help out the turf quality.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 Spring Aerifications

Submitted by:  Craig Loving

            Yes, the season is once again upon us where all three courses in Sun City begin aerifying the greens.  Every year we address the “why” behind the reasoning for aerifications.  There are many articles published online by credible organizations such as the USGA and GCSAA that explain the need for aerifications, as well as our blog entries from previous years that detail why we do it.  To put it simply, both plants and animals need air and water to survive.  Aerifying alleviates compaction from foot traffic and mechanical stress (mowers), and allows a channel for both air and water to reach the root zone.  But the focus of this blog entry isn’t on the “why”, but more on combating the negative perception of post-aerification playability.

            The general consensus for 95% or more of golfers is that the greens don’t roll true after each aerification, and that they take too long to heal.  The putts are bumpy and bounce off the intended line, leaving a lot of missed putts.  If you ignore the physical appearance of the putting surface immediately after an aerification, you might actually realize that there are techniques that we implement to ensure a relatively smooth ball roll.  Are they as pure as they were the day prior?  Probably not, but they will be healthier in the long run, and the difference in playability isn’t as bad as perceived.  Below is a diagram of the appearance of our most recent aerification from a bird’s eye view, as well as videos of a ball roll from a stimpmeter on the days following our aerification.

   (for high definition video:  https://youtu.be/SgetbTcKVJc )
            The video was taken from the same spot on the same green (#18 Cowan Creek), as were the aerial photos.  All of the ball rolls following the aerification have minimal bounces, and none of which bounced off its intended line.  In most cases, the subsequent ball that was rolled hit the previous ball, which indicates how true the green’s surface actually is.

            We can achieve this consistency with the proper quantity and incorporation of topdressing sand during the aerification process, as well as rolling the greens multiple times on the days following.  The overall techniques vary from facility to facility, but the results can be the same if performed correctly.  As the sand settles over the next week, an additional application of topdressing sand is needed to re-fill the holes.  So if you can ignore the appearance of the greens for a little while (7-14 days depending on the weather), you will realize that the playability isn’t an issue.  Hopefully you won’t be so afraid to sign up for a tee time at one of the courses following our aerification days, but if you still want to blame missed putts on aerification holes, you have our permission to do so.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 2016 Golf Staff Report

Financial Summary


Another great month! Great weather, greens conditions and expense savings put us ahead of budget for the second straight month.


Golf finished February ahead of budget by $102,681    

Total Revenue: $338,283

Total Budgeted Revenue: $273,802

Total Expenses: $299,680

Total Budgeted Expenses: $337,880


YTD we are $193,336 ahead of budget. 


A few notes:

March is trending well for us to meet budget. 

We have sold an additional four Annual Passes after making that option available due to the golf course enhancement project being postponed. That offer expires at month end. 


Pace of Play


Player Service employees have been told to make additional loops on the golf course to marshal play when the duties of range picking, cart cleaning and hauling ice and water are not being performed. We will be conducting a staff meeting April 5th with all operations staff to reinforce training on subjects such as, marshalling, pace of play and employee expectations.   


Golf Pro Report


2016 Golfnow

Since January 2011, January 2016 was by far the best January with revenue exceeding $16,000.  With continued good weather, this trend continued through February and into March.


Using January 1 through March 23 as a date range, here are some numbers to compare


20131,124 rounds for $38,039 (very good weather)

2015520 rounds for $17,660 (very poor weather)

20161,217 rounds for $43,714 (very good weather)


Month to Date for March, the average Golfnow rate across all three courses is ~$37 and overall for the date range given, the average is ~$36.


Non-Resident Tournaments

Through February, Actual Tournament revenue has been ahead of budget.  March does not appear to be at the level we expected but with the UIL State Tournament coming, we are looking forward to a bigger April.



Unfortunately, for the 3rd straight time, we were forced to cancel the Night Golf Event due to weather.  We try to do this event once in the spring and once in the fall so hopefully the weather will cooperate later in the year.


Our first of three Golf Course Open Houses occurred on Monday, March 14 at Legacy Hills and was another success as we had nearly 250 residents take the tour.


Demo Day was cancelled due to high winds. 


Non-Resident Golf and Range Pass

These passes are officially on sale and we have slowly begun to sell some of each.  As word spreads and the weather continues to warm up, we expect these numbers to grow.


Merchandise Sales

Based on the timing of the budget, and the decision not to offer the gift card incentive for purchasing a pass/punch card in December, it appears the merchandise budget number is very aggressive for 2016.  That said, we are actually tracking fairly close to budget.



Superintendent Report


White Wing


Spring has sprung around White Wing. We have made the spring application of pre-emergent herbicide. With the warmer weather some broadleaf weeds have already emerged and we will get these sprayed and mowed down as soon as possible. The first cutting of the fairways has been made and we are working on getting the rough mowed and cleaned up. Rains caused some debris on the course and the bridge crossing 18 fairway. Charles and Crew were kind enough to help us out this last time and we appreciate it very much. Greens seem to be doing well and we are still monitoring moisture, growth and disease pressure. We sent off a sample and had a tinge of Bermuda grass decline present which we have treated for and will continue to monitor. The poa annua pressure seems to be subsiding on the greens but we still have the presence on the collars and approaches. We will treat with herbicide as possible and the warmer weather will start to take it out naturally. Bunkers are still an issue and we are monitoring sand depth, moving around were possible and will continue to add as necessary.




Legacy Hills  


Last week on our closed Monday we were able to get the pre emergent granular herbicide down course wide and watered in. We are in the process of spraying and weed eating down the weeds that are already established. We sprayed the greens with Kerb on February 19 and the poa annua has been checking out the last two weeks. We have a few areas on the greens that are thin and we are hand spiking and topdressing with sand weekly to help those areas fill in and smooth them out. Our main focuses this coming week are detail work and removing the black liners from the bunkers on #11 fwy and #17 fwy.


Cowan Creek  


This month we added over 750 feet of herringbone French drainage in the landing area on #9 fairway.  These trenches and the trenches on #6 were sodded with Tif 419 bermudagrassoverseeded with perennial ryegrass on 3/15/16.  We have been hand watering the new sod daily, and we should be able to open up the ropes on #9 for the MGA Member Member.  The areas will still be marked ground under repair for the time being.  Our other focuses have been on pre-emergent and post-emergent weed control.  All areas on the course have now been sprayed for both, and we have been mowing and weedeating the dead weeds throughout the golf course.  Our second application of pre-emergent granular herbicide on the greens for goosegrassand crabgrass took place on 3/2/16.